Iowa’s races for governor and Congress are beginning to take shape ahead of Labor Day, an unofficial milestone in political cycles.
This summer, a rush of candidates announced plans to run in 2022, helping set the stage for some high-profile matchups.
Republicans head into the 2022 cycle with a clear incumbency advantage, fielding returning candidates in at least four of six seats. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra — all Republicans — are expected to seek reelection.
Iowa’s lone Democrat in Congress, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, has not yet said whether she will seek reelection, leaving the door open to a run for governor.
Still, big questions remain.
Iowa’s senior U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley has not said whether he will seek reelection. Analysts and political insiders agree he would be the favorite to win. His retirement would open the door to a large and chaotic Republican primary.
Political redistricting also must play out following the decennial census. The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency has begun drawing new legislative and congressional districts that will shape the state’s politics for the next decade. The resulting maps could influence whether and where some politicians seek office.
Here’s a look at how federal races are shaping up. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
Abby Finkenauerin July became the first major Democrat to announce a 2022 run for the U.S. Senate seat long held by Republican Chuck Grassley. Finkenauer is a former state representative who was elected to Iowa’s 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 but lost her 2020 re-election bid.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley has not yet said whether he plans to seek re-election to an eighth term. He has set himself a Nov. 1 deadline to make that decision, saying that one year would give any candidate enough time to mount a campaign.
State Sen. Jim Carlin, a 58-year-old trial lawyer and Army veteran, was the first candidate of either party to officially jump into the race in February. He has criticized Grassley for his recent vote on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, among other things, and has said he will primary him if necessary.
U.S. House, 1st District
State Sen. Liz Mathis was first elected to the Iowa Senate in a 2011 special election, and she was re-elected to her third full term in 2020. She is a retired community engagement director at a Cedar Rapids-based child advocacy nonprofit. She is also a former television reporter and anchor at KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids. She launched her congressional campaign in July.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson formally announced her re-election plans Aug. 28 at her first annual “Ashley’s BBQ Bash” fundraiser at the Linn County Fairgrounds. She is a former state representative who is serving her first term in Congress after defeating Democratic incumbent, Abby Finkenauer, in 2020.
U.S. House, 2nd District
State Rep. Christina Bohannan currently represents Iowa House District 85 in Iowa City. She won the seat in 2020 after successfully primarying a veteran Democrat in the district. She is a law professor at the University of Iowa teaching constitutional law, torts and intellectual property. She announced her campaign in August.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks has not formally announced her re-election campaign, though she is expected to. Miller-Meeks won the seat in 2020 after a protracted recount process showed her defeating Democratic challenger Rita Hart by just six votes.
U.S. House, 3rd District
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne has not yet said whether she will seek reelection in the 3rd District, which includes Des Moines and Council Bluffs in the state’s southwest corner. Axne said in August she is also considering a run for governor in 2022.
State Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, a Council Bluffs native, was the first Republican to enter the 3rd District race. She served in the Iowa House for ten years and served as chair of the Economic Growth Committee. She is a teacher and currently works for a nonprofit in Council Bluffs that provides care for children with mental and behavioral health needs.
Nicole Hasso, a Johnston Republican, is a political newcomer. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago, earned an academic scholarship to Drake University and works now in financial services. She announced her campaign in July and was recently endorsed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
State Sen. Zach Nunn, an Altoona native and Bondurant resident, was first elected to the Iowa House in 2014, and he won his Senate seat in 2018. Nunn is a combat aviator and Intelligence Squadron Commander in the United States Air Force, and he has served on the White House’s National Security Council as Director of Cybersecurity. He announced his run in July.
U.S. House, 4th District
So far, no Democrats have formally announced plans to run in Iowa’s heavily conservative 4th District, which covers the northwest corner of the state. Democrat J.D. Scholten, who ran and lost in 2018 and 2020, said he will not seek the seat a third time.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra has not formally said he will seek reelection, though he is expected to do so. Feenstra got a high-profile boost from former Vice President Mike Pence in July, when he headlined a fundraiser for Feenstra in Sioux Center.
Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.
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